Going into eighth day of the series between New Zealand and Australia, the visitors had not dominated a single day. The first Test at the Gabba in Brisbane completely belonged to the hosts, and Australia won all sessions on day one at Perth as well. On the second day, the Kiwis finally displayed some competitiveness as they bowled and batted with a sense of purpose. And then, on Sunday at the WACA, it was all New Zealand. Ross Taylor (235 not out) and Kane Williamson (166) were the chief architects of the Kiwis’ fightback as Brendon McCullum’s men sent Australia on a leather hunt.
Day three began with Australia still having a significant edge, but ended with the game looking set for a draw, unless of course someone from either side can pull off something magical to force a result in the high-scoring game. New Zealand resumed the day at 140 for two with Williamson having crossed his fifty and Taylor having settled in the day earlier. They ended on an impressive 510 for 6, which translated to 370 runs for the loss of just four wickets, a very Australian-like number, and a day which could give New Zealand the much-required self-belief that they are here to compete.
It goes without saying that Taylor and Williamson were the key architects of New Zealand’s fightback. When they joined forces late on day two, the Kiwis were very much in trouble at 87 for 2, having conceded 559 in the first innings. By the time, they were separated, New Zealand had progressed to 352, a massive improvement. Their partnership, worth 265 runs, is now the highest for New Zealand against Australia in Tests for any wicket. And, even after Williamson departed for 166, Taylor carried on and brought up his second double century, with a cover drive off Mitchell Starc.
During the course of his double century, Taylor became the fifth batsman from New Zealand to complete 5000 runs in Tests. That’s not all. He also overtook Martin Crowe’s 188 to register the highest Test score by a New Zealander against the Australians. Thanks to Taylor and Williamson, New Zealand finished the day, trailing by only 49 runs with four wickets in hand. If the last four wickets can now help New Zealand gain a decent led, the visitors would believe they can have an outside chance of overcoming Australia. That in itself in a significant achievement considering the situation at the end of day one.
Apart from no little luck with the ball, Australia had an uncharacteristically poor day in the field, with catches being dropped. Brendon McCullum was dropped on 5 as Nathan Lyon dropped an edge off Mitchell Starc at third slip. Taylor was then put down on 137, again off the same bowler. This time Mitchell Marsh at gully failed to latch on to the ball. In hindsight, it was a massive let off as Taylor went on to add another 98 runs before end of day’s play. Australia’s chance of victory may well have slipped away with that costly drop.
--By A Cricket Correspondent